Features & Interviews

Type Approval: Interview with Brit-Tipp’s Gary Miller

10 September 2014 #Features & Interviews

Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) is a challenge for the entire body building industry, but for body builders over a certain size it is a nettle that must be grasped.

One firm that has been only too glad to rise to the challenge is Warrington-based body builder Brit-Tipp. The firm already has 12 N1-class Type Approval for its core range of 3.5-tonne bodywork and is finalising N2-Type Approval across heavier vehicles.

“We’ve now got Iveco N2 Type Approval across our whole range of bodywork and we’ll have DAF shortly,” says Gary Miller, Managing Director at Brit-Tipp, adding that Mercedes, MAN, Canter and Isuzu TAs have also been applied for.

From 29 October this year, all third-party truck bodies will require Type Approval, either European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) or National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA). While there is a provision in the regulations that bodywork can be subject to a one-off inspection, known as Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA), this is not an avenue that Brit-Tipp intends to go down. “While we know that a lot of firms intend to follow the IVA route, we don’t personally think it is the right way to go,” says Miller. “The reason is that there will be long extended lead times to get an IVA test for each vehicle and the costs will ultimately be passed on to the customer.

“However, with Whole Vehicle Type Approval there is a fixed cost and that’s it. We just feel it is a better way forward.” He adds that the company will also apply for N3 TAs, the heaviest class, in order to offer Type Approval on everything the company manufactures.

Miller thinks the spirit of Type Approval will have a positive effect on the industry. “It’s a good thing that everybody will be playing by the same rules. Yes, it does cost a lot, but it is going to give confidence to the customer that they know their completed vehicle can be registered immediately after completion and the job is right.”

Of the firm’s core products that have already gained Type Approval, he says that the vast majority of custom requirements can be catered for within the framework of mass and dimensions.

“People will ask for all kinds of variations on our standard tipper, such as all-around handrails and toolboxes behind the cab as well as caged and arboricultural vehicles,” he says, adding that the main difference to the newly-approved N2 body types was a very slight increase in width, due to lateral protection and that the under-run bar will now be a standard fitment.

On this subject he notes that the firm’s under-run bar has been Type Approved by VCA and can be fitted with its own tow bar attachment that has also been Type Approved, meaning that the sub-assembly has been designed, and manufactured entirely in-house, a policy which Miller extends throughout the business. “We try to do everything in-house as the more we can do, we are less reliant on other suppliers and so are in greater control of our own future,” he explains.

While Type Approval in Miller’s eyes represents an opportunity for the industry, he is careful to say that when the legislation is introduced, it must be enforced. He points out that when N1 was first introduced, a number of dealerships were still registering vehicles without a Completed Certificate of Conformity because there wasn’t an effective path of communication between the DVLA and the VCA. “It brings me to recall 1995 when the CE marking was introduced,” he says. “I thought that if it didn’t have a CE mark it wouldn’t pass an MOT, but that never happened. I just hope that this time that rule breaking will be clamped down on.”

Finally, Miller says that he is glad the firm is adopting a strategy of seeking Type Approval over the entire range. “We are proud that we are the first bodybuilder to get it,” he says. “I do think the IVA is going to be a big problem going forward as there is going to be a huge bottleneck. If it’s taking up to six weeks for an IVA at the minute, what’s it going to be like after 29 October?

“N2 Type Approval does cost us money, but from our point of view and from the customer’s point of view it is the most sensible way,” he concludes.


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